By Michael Russo
Khudobin net for Wild. Niemi going distance for Chicago.
Fifth fight — Matt Kassian vs. Aaron Johnson. So, Smith, Scott, Cuma, Sifers and Kassian have scrapped for the Wild. Wanting to get noticed clearly.
Mark Cullen not showing Minnesota nice high-sticks Danny Irmen. Wild power play, mercifully with 6:53 left in this bad hockey game even by exhibition standards. Martin Havlat now held by Aaron Johnson. 1:51 5-on-3 ensues.
Havlat quickly one-times Cal Clutterbuck’s goalmouth pass from the side. 2-0 with 6:29 left.
3-0 Wild. Petr Sykora a beauty from Owen Nolan.
Huge fracas with 28.1 seconds left. Kyle Beach, running around all game, given the boot.
Sloppy start to the second for the Wild. Still 1-0. One close call from Sykora ringing the iron.
Burish is not returning with leg injury suffered in first period. Tangled with Pouliot.
Tyler Cuma just has his first fight with Shawn Lalonde. Was doing well until he got nailed with a punch late. Came up bleeding.
Wild on power play. Pouliot redirects a Jaime Sifers’ power-play shot that looked in, but veteran ref Dan Marouelli right there waves it no good indicating it hit the crossbar.
3:32 left in the period. 1-0 Wild.
Fourth fight of game. Sifers vs. Fraser; not the Wild’s Fraser, the Blackhawks’ Fraser…48.8 ticks left.
End of period. 11 saves for Backstrom, who is spotless in two exhibition games. Khudobin’s supposed to start the third period.
Irmen-Brodziak-Nolan ; Falk-Sifers
1-0 Wild 1:26: Just a sensational first goal by Martin Havlat. In the neutral zone, he makes a sweet deke to slip the puck past Jack Skille. Havlat catches up to it, then pops it in the air to get it by Skille over the blue line. He passes to Pouliot, who gives it back to Havlat for the easy tap-in.
Two fights since we last spoke…John Scott pummelled Danny Bois. Nathan Smith fought Jacob Dowell.
Kopecky just hit post. 4:06 left, Hawks on power play. Wild kills it, but Sifers off for high-sticking. 7 minutes left. Johnsson going off for interference. 29 sec 5-on-3 coming up. That penalty is killed, then Backstrom stones Andrew Ladd at the blue.
End of 1, 1-0 Wild
Finally, the game is 20 minutes away. Long day at the rink, and the game starts two hours earlier than normal.
Nolan, Johnsson and Schultz wearing the A’s for Minnesota. The Blackhawks’ lineup is weak — only “regulars” are Ladd, Sopel, Burish, Kopecky, Hjalmarsson and Fraser. Antti Niemi is goal.
Niklas Backstrom scheduled to play two periods, Anton Khudobin one.